cover image Childhood


Bill Cosby. Putnam, $14.95 (188pp) ISBN 978-0-399-13647-4

Cosby's fourth book contains the same mix of sweetness and belly laughs as Fatherhood , etc. The popular TV comic features the eternal conflict between parents and kids while comparing the dull, structured, affluent lives of today's children with his own richly adventurous, independent years growing up in the 1940s. Although home was a Philadelphia housing project, young Cosby and his pals lived mostly on the streets, away from suspicious parents, and relied on their ingenuity for fun. The boys' escapades are boffo entertainment, a high point being when they fall for a gift of ``Spanish flies,'' guaranteed to help them seduce girls. The donor shows the hopeful Lotharios a photo of a nude woman supposedly affected by the aphrodisiac, swearing that, ``with her clothes on, that woman's a librarian.'' Their plot fails, of course, but how it does adds more wonderfully ridiculous moments to the grand total. First serial to Parade; Literary Guild and Doubleday Book Club alternates. (Nov.)